Barnebys’ star lot is a Maori carved hardwood waka huia (pictured.) The waka huia, or feather box, are containers crafted by the Maoris to be used as treasure boxes to hold pendants, feathers which would be used for decorating hair and hair combs. The boxes were private and personal to the owner, which adds to their mystic charm.

The waka huia were cleverly designed to be hung from the ceiling of the Maori’s homes as a form of decorative art. The boxes hold a sentimental value as they were passed down through generations and given as tokens of friendship. Each tribe would often have their own style of decorating the outer of the box.

The example on sale at Toovey’s is an early 19th Century piece that has an oval shaped body. Each end has a stylized head handle and the interior of the lid is inscribed in yellow paint with ‘George Hawthron 1830.’

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